The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills and Leave a Positive Impress by Debra Fine


It’s Valentine’s Day today! I wish all the happy couples will stay happy!

Since it started snowing in the morning, it did not feel romantic at all. I was not in the mood for taking pictures so I left my camera at home, without realizing I could be using it for really good reasons.

I got a ticket from work to attend this annual Department of Interior book forum today. It’s given by Debra Fine, and the theme was “The Fine Art of Small Talk: How to Start a Conversation, Keep It Going, Build Networking Skills and Leave a Positive Impress”. She’s the author of the following book which I got for free by attending the forum!

… and later had it signed:

Her forum was so educational that I actually wanted to start reading the book soon! Four tips she gave I thought were very useful in starting a conversation.

  1. You gotta know people’s name, if you forget, ask again until you get it right – it’s silly to avoid a conversation just because you can’t rememer a name.
  2. Always assume the burden of other people’s comfort. (I need to read up on that because I didn’t quite get what she meant)
  3. If the other person wants to talk to you, no matter how lame the ice-breaker line is, he/she’s going to talk to you; similarly, if they are not in talking mode, they could ignore you just because of the color of your shirt. So don’t be afraid to be the first one to speak, it’s not riskier than driving on the highway!
  4. Nowadays, “How’s your day?” and “Did you have a good weekend?” equal to “Hi”! If you really want to have a conversation with someone, show that you’re really interested, by asking more, such as “so, what did you do over the weekend?” or “tell me a little about your family…”

After about an hour of talking, Debra had us do a little activity. She divided all the attendees into three large groups, and each two people were to form a pair and talk to each other for five minutes, the goal was to find at least three things the two people have in common. I never thought my partner and I would have anything in common, because we are in two different generations (he could be my dad!), gender is different, and we grew up in different cultures. Still, we tried very hard to come up with something and at the end, we listed that we both liked drinking tea, using chopsticks, we both live on Yale Avenue, and went to college at CU Denver! When I spoke, I kept mentioning that I’m from a different country so to be able to find something in common was a triumph! And it worked! We were one of the three pairs to win a prize! I picked the Starbucks gift card, and sure enough, that got turned into two delicious frappuccinos later when I shopped with my mom!:


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